BY ENDER RENCE
FOR the first time in history, women in Media and Communications from the Solomon Islands made a strong presence at the third Feminism Forum held from May 8th to 10th, 2023, at the Pearl Resort in Pacific Harbour, Fiji.
The event, attended by 150 women from across the South Pacific, served as a vibrant platform to champion gender equality and women’s rights in the region.
In 2022, eleven Pacific Island countries held their inaugural National Feminism Forums, creating opportunities for women to connect, share experiences, and advocate for gender equality.
The Solomon Islands hosted their own National Feminism Forum in November of 2022, where they presented reflections on the unique challenges faced by women in their community.
Ender Rence, co-founder and president of the Women in Media and Communications Solomon Islands (WIMSI), also a participant in the Gender-Based Violence panel, emphasized the gravity of the issue and the urgent need for collective action to stop gender-based violence. The Pacific Feminism Forum holds immense significance for women, providing a platform to foster unity, amplify voices, and work towards a fair and just society.
Participating in the forum enables women to forge connections with like-minded individuals, gain insights from diverse perspectives, and cultivate solidarity among Pacific Island nations. By actively engaging in the Pacific Feminism Forum, women can contribute to shaping the feminist movement in the region, striving for a more equitable future for all.
Despite the progress made, women in the Pacific still encounter various barriers. Limited access to education and healthcare, as well as cultural norms that impede mobility and opportunities, pose challenges that demand concerted efforts to overcome. However, through collective engagement, sharing experiences, and advocating for gender equality, women in the Pacific can break down these barriers and work towards achieving their goals.
Toward the end of the forum, a Feminism Outcome Statement was formulated, underscoring the key issues discussed and urging collective action to address them. The statement serves as a reminder of the event’s significance and the commitment of attendees to continue the fight for gender equality and women’s rights in the Pacific.
The outcome statement reflects the demands of feminists and women’s human rights defenders, highlighting pressing issues faced by Pacific women such as decolonization and identity challenges, the impact of the climate change crisis, displacement of homes in low-lying islands, and the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions.
The 3rd Pacific Feminism Forum stands as a crucial gathering for women in the region, offering a platform to connect, share experiences, and advocate for gender equality and women’s rights. Despite the challenges faced, the collective power of women coming together instills hope for a future marked by greater equity and justice.
The delegation from Women in Media and Communications Solomon Islands was represented and led by Ender Rence, Priscillas Ragu, Diana Maahoro, Naomi Tai, and Stella Waioha, who played vital roles in organizing other National Ferminism forums.
The 3rd PFF received support from the Australian Government through the We Rise Coalition and the Pacific Women Lead at Pacific Community (PWL at SPC), as well as UN Women through the global Spotlight Initiative, which received generous backing from the European Union.